Say Yes Buffalo's endowment fund campaign gets million-dollar boost

May 17, 2019

Say Yes Buffalo, which launched in 2012 to provide scholarships and grants to Buffalo Public School high school graduates, received a $1 million gift from Delaware North Companies, as the education project builds donations for a $100 million endowment fund designed to keep the scholarships coming into the long-term future.

Davon Scott, a junior at Bennett High School in Buffalo, speaks in praise of the Say Yes Buffalo program - and his aspirations to attend college - outside his school Friday morning.
Credit Michael Mroziak, WBFO

The million-dollar gift announced Friday outside Bennett High School in Buffalo is the second time Delaware North Companies donated this level of money. It also provided $1 million as Say Yes Buffalo got underway in 2012.

This time, the money is going specifically into the Say Yes Buffalo Endowment Fund. That project launched last year and, through a campaign effort, as raised $38 million to date.

Jerry Jacobs, Jr., Delaware North Companies' Co-Chief Executive Officer, spoke of the increasing number of graduations and enrollments in college since Say Yes began in 2012.

"Since launching in Buffalo, the program has lifted our city's high school graduation rate from less than 50 to 65.5 percent," Jacobs said. "The number of Buffalo students enrolling in college immediately following high school graduation has increased from 57 to 67 percent."

One of those graduates is Temara Cross, a Hutch Tech alumna, who is now a Say Yes Scholar at the University at Buffalo.

"Say Yes means more to me than just the finances," she said. "I was able to get internships and learn more. At Roswell (Park Comprehensive Cancer Center) I conduct research on breast cancer in African-American women, and that also ties back into the reason why I decided to pursue education in medicine."

She explained that she lost a loved one to cancer.

The Say Yes Buffalo Endowment Fund, launched last year, is being built to have a pool of money available to provide continued scholarships and grants for the indeterminate future. Local businessman and developer Nick Sinatra and his wife, Courtney, are chairing the campaign to raise a total $100 million.

"This is really the most important professional tasks of our lives," Mr. Sinatra said. "This is the most important fundraising effort, in our opinion, in the city's history. This really is going to be game-changing for our students and our community."